Babies who wake up frequently after their first few months can put a strain on an entire family. Use these night-weaning techniques to get some rest.
Step 1: Tank up during the day Feed your baby often during the daytime. Rouse them from naps at least every three hours to feed, and offer extra feedings in the evening so they will be less hungry in the middle of the night.
Step 2: Diminish night feeds gradually Cut back gradually on time at the breast, or slowly reduce ounces by bottle, when your baby wakes at night to feed. Prolong feeding intervals by gently patting or rocking your baby.
TIP: Return to the normal nighttime feeding schedule if your baby cries inconsolably for several nights in a row on the diminished milk routine, and then try gradual weaning again in a week or two.
Step 3: "Dream feed" Wake the baby for a full feeding just before you go to bed, even if they have only been sleeping for an hour or two. This way, the baby will wake you one less time during the night.
Step 4: Make milk less available Increase the distance between the baby and your breasts by moving the bassinet further from the bed or moving the baby to their own room. If babies don't smell milk or see mommy next to them, they may be more likely to drift back to sleep.
Step 5: Increase daytime touch Offer your baby more physical closeness during the daytime so they don't yearn for it as much at night. Wear your baby in a wrap or sling to increase touch and still get daily tasks done.
Step 6: Offer a substitute Trade off night duty with someone else, such as a husband or partner, so the baby doesn't always expect to be comforted by mommy and her breasts. This gives dads the chance to develop their baby-soothing skills.
TIP: Give dad the nightshift when he doesn't have to work the next day to make it easier for him to adjust to waking up at night.
Step 7: Don't rush weaning Night wean only when your baby is old enough to not wake every few hours from hunger. Most babies are several months old before they start sleeping five to six hour stretches at night.
FACT: Breast milk is the only infant food that contains long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are important in brain development.